As a council employee Martin McLoughlin (pictured) is more familiar than most with the council chamber at Áras an Chontae in Castlebar but he readily admitted yesterday (Monday) afternoon was a different experience.
“Even though I am in and out of here regularly, it is an unnerving place to be today, in a different capacity,” admitted Cllr McLoughlin after he was officially co-opted at a special meeting of the council.
“It is a privilege and an honour to join ye here in replacing Deputy Lisa Chambers. I’m under no illusions that I have big shoes to fill. I’m delighted that the Fianna Fáil delegates endorsed me for the position,” added Cllr McLoughlin.
Cllr McLoughlin was put forward by Fianna Fáil after winning a special selection convention on Saturday night. There, he was elected on the first count, defeating David Gallagher and Marty O’Hora.
He’s from Derrycoosh, Castlebar and works as a mechanical fitter with the council.
He was officially declared elected by Cllr Damien Ryan, who himself was elected as Cathaoirleach for the day. Current Cathaoirleach Michael Holmes and Leas Cathaoirleach Brendan Mulroy are both out of the country on St Patrick’s Day travels for the council.
Cllr Ryan paid tribute to Cllr McLoughlin’s hard work for Fianna Fáil, particularly in Lisa Chambers’ successful election to the Dáil.
“He was deeply involved in Lisa’s campaign and I found him a very effective and organised individual and he will bring huge quality to the chamber,” said Cllr Ryan.
Cllr Henry Kenny (Fine Gael) is a native of the Derrycoosh. He remembered the new councillor’s late father who he said would be ‘very proud’ of his son becoming a county councillor.
Cllr McLoughlin was swiftly appointed to a number of boards and committees to replace Deputy Chambers, including Ballintubber and Kiltimagh Community Centres committees, the Western Inter-County Railway Committee and on the Economic Development and Enterprise Support Strategic Policy Committee of Mayo County Council.
Cllr Ryan was appointed to the Regional Health Forum, West to fill the vacancy left by Deputy Chambers there while Cllr Annie May Reape took Chambers’ place on the Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim Education and Training Board (formerly VEC).
Tributes were also paid from all sides of the house to Deputy Lisa Chambers, who was present to watch Cllr McLoughlin take her seat.
Cllr John Cribbin (Fine Gael) said Chambers ‘will be sadly missed as she was easy on the eye and easy on the ear’ while Cllr Michael Smyth praised Deputy Chambers’ ‘talent, ability and hard work’, which he said was reflected in her vote.